Imagens das páginas

Art. II.-1. Ida della Torre, Episodio patrio, di Giulio Car

cano. (Ida della Torre, a national episode by Giulio Carcano.)

8vo. Milano, 1834. 2. L'Esule Pisano, Canti Tre, di Gio. Battista Montanuri. (The

Esile of Pisa, in Three Cantos, by Gio. Battista Montanari.)

8vo. Verona. 1856. 3. Ulrico e Lida, Novella, di Tommaso Grossi. 8vo. Milano.

1837. NARRATIVE poetry appears to be reviving in Italy, though not in its earliest modern form ; neither as the regular epic of Tasso, nor the fantastically wild, extravagant, and comic, but always vigorous and fascinating, vein of Ariosto. As little have the living successors of those great bards condescended to imitate the romantic strain of Scott, although we can scarcely doubt of The Lay, Marmion, The Lord of the Isles, &c. being as certainly the progenitors of the more recent Italian narrative poems, as the Waverley series of their historic novels; with some of which we have made our readers acquainted. The works, however, where with our present business lies, have, as intimated, neither the regularity and completeness of the first-named poet, the life and variety of the second, nor the strong and romantic spirit of the last. But if it is easy to say what they are not, what they are is less readily definable; inasmuch as even those now before us differ too widely from each other to be susceptible of any generic or collective description beyond that of narrative, written in the regular ottava rima, or eight-lined stanza. Their classification however is of the less importance because we have not hitherto met with one of them of merit sufficient to point out its author as the founder of a new school, though evidently gifted with some poetic powers. The three poems before us we understand to be very popular in Italy, and therefore purpose laying them before our readers in the chronological order of their publication.

The first of the three, Ida della Torre, bears as a poem some analogy to the prose fiction, Giovanna Prima, mentioned in a former number.* Like that, it is a fragment of history developed imaginatively, and, in the present case, poetically also. The poem

is little more than a relation of the commencement of the Emperor Henry of Luxemburg's expedition into Italy, in the years 1310-11, to receive the imperial and iron crown; upon

* See Foreign Quarterly Review, No. xxxiv., p. 473. VOL. XXI. NO. XLI.


which occasion he paused in Lombardy to pacify that (in those days) ever turbulent portion of the peninsula. The subject is well chosen. From amongst the Lombard broils the poet has selected for his theme those which distracted their chief city Milan, with the rivalry of the Torriani and Visconti; and which rivalry Henry appeased, or rather quelled, by expelling Guido della Torre, and reinstating the exiled Matteo Visconte. Upon this historical event Carcano has superinduced a Romeo and Juliet story—the loves of Alfredo Visconte and Ida della Torre -but unluckily he has not managed it with the genius of Shakspeare. His Romeo, Alfredo, who has no father to control his proceedings, unceremoniously, unscrupulously, and without other motive than his passion, deserts his kindred and party to join his mistress's parent. The only plea we can allege in his favour is, that his desertion of the Visconti takes place at the moment when their sun is rising, and that he follows the Torriani when they in their turn tread the paths of exile. But the lady's father, who is clearly no obstinate Capulet, gives his daughter so readily to Alfredo on his, the lover's, death-bed, that we cannot imagine why they were not married when both were alive and well.

Of this pregnant subject the author has made nothing in the way of story. He evidently possesses a strong and fervid imagination, capable of producing something very superior to Ida della Torre, however ephemerally popular this tale may be in Italy. The defects of the poem originate chiefly in the writer's having trusted merely to inspiration, without duly and previously meditating upon, planning, and working out his subject. To exhibit his poetic powers we translate the opening stanzas. “Look, Italy, upon thy native sky

Gloriously radiant with the noontide blaze ;
See, lingering on thine Alpine bulwarks high,

Aurora drops her veil of roseate rays !
Quiver the gentle zephyrs ; kissingly

The water of two seas around thee plays:
And beautiful as thought of God above

Art thou, or new-formed man's first dream of love!
" Thy mountain steeps, and their embosomed dells;

Thy blest enchantment, trees and flowers among;
Thy nights, whose deep serene breathes magic spells ;

'Í'he silver mantle of the starry throng ;
The balmy air where richest perfume dwells ;

All blend melodiously in nature's song!
Since first this earth by human kind was trod,
Thy sky hath been one ceaseless hymn to God.

“ But, thrall of guiltier times, thou bear'st their brand ;

And fearful still has been thy children's life,
For heavily bath fallen th’ Eternal's hand

Upon thy soil, with discord ever rife.
He waked fraternal hatreds ; —through the land

Writing in blood the tale of direst strife :
Nor hath the course of centuries effaced

One dreadful character of all be traced.” These, followed, we know not why, by two whole stanzas of asterisks, constitute the introduction, which being thus oddly completed, the poem itself opens as follows. " Fair land of Italy, that in my

Breath’st every sweetest, every saddest thought;
In virgin lays the memory unblest

I wake, of ills Insubrian passions wrought.
An awful lesson to mankind address'd

And for thy children's hearts with anguish fraught-
Upon these shores what hymn can ever rise

That pitying echo answers not with sighs !
" Wbere deepest thrown along Benaco's vale

Sleep the hill shadows, and his banks are still,
An exile rears his pensive forehead pale,

While thoughts of long-lost home his bosom thrill.-
The day is lovely, and the amorous gale

The perfumes of ten thousand blossoms fill :
Italiau nature's genial smile is there

But powerless still to soothe the exile's care.
“ That midnight look, where vengeance broods abhorred,

That bair betokening years, that bald high brow;
Too plainly these confess their banished lord-

Mattéo de' Visconti, is it thou !

Within whose burning soul distinctly traced

Proud hopes survive, of power more firmly based. 6 Yet bitter memories of moments flown,

Too deeply graven on his spirit dwell;
When, banished from the realm so long his own,

He sought, a fugitive, the hermit-cell.
Revenge, regret, hope, yet unoverthrown,

Conflicting wildly in his bosom swell :
Unwonted shame that exiled leader shakes,

And all his soul to new resentment wakes.
“ His wife deserted, and their wedlock's fruit,

Banished and distant all, on memory
Resistless rise, in agonies acute

That chill to stone the tear-drop in his eye.
In vain! that wrathful spirit, fixed and mute,
Takes counsel only of his courage high;

For still midst adverse fortune's darkest storm,

The virtues of his race his soul inform." This may suffice as a specimen of Carcano's poetic ability, and we shall turn from Ida della Torre, inforcing our former remark that its fault is incompleteness as a work of art; a defect not necessarily entailed by its being an episode of national history. Further, it interests us in no hero; neither the elderly political antagonists, nor even Alfredo, whose love is as much misplaced amidst the clash of that civil war as the love in some of Corneille's tragedies. We would not wish to insinuate with Addison's Cato, that this passion is necessarily out of its sphere in these or any political convulsions, for this would run counter to experience: on the contrary, such love relieves and breathes a human sympathy amidst the deepest horrors, whilst it impresses us with a shuddering sense of the tremendous devastation of happiness, as well as life, wrought by intestine commotion. The love that can do this, however, is not the mere youthful fancy of a boy and girl who have scarcely exchanged a word, and of whose individuality we have therefore no strong and distinct conception. It requires to be brought before us as a passion not merely told, but which we ourselves deeply feel to be ingrossing and irresistible.

L'Esule Pisano is less historical than Ida della Torre; it is likewise less poetical; but we are by no means without a suspicion that it may be inore generally popular. It really is a romantic narrative of the past; but, as such, presents us with little graphic portraiture of the misery and horrors to which Italy was every where reduced in those days of mutual hatred and warfare. We do, to be sure, hear something of the tyrannous cruelty of Rambaldo, the usurper of Pisa, and the ultimate success of an insurrection against him; but in direct contrast with Carcano's volume, Montanari gives us little of the historical part of his subject, occupying bimself almost exclusively with the loves and adventures of his Ugo and Elisa. Of these the latter is a somewhat virago-ish damsel, who tells fibs innumerable, and deserts her aged father to follow, not accompany, her lover Ugo, one of the leaders of the insurrection, from their common place of exile, Sardinia, into Tuscany. The lady takes this extraordinary step contrary, we apprehend, to the law's even of romance, without any stronger motive than impatience of her lover's absence; and the catastrophe entirely turns upon this continental trip, inasmuch as her unmaidenly escapade brings her to the scene of action at a moment so critical, that, by cleverly rescuing Ugo from a dungeon, she both saves his life and enables him to achieve his enterprise. But Elisa is wholly unacquainted with the danger of her lover, when she thus wildly, indelicately, and unfilially follows, merely, as it might be thought, to hamper him and disgrace herself.

We proceed to offer our readers a specimen of the performance, and cannot perhaps select a fairer than Elisa's measures for Ugo's deliverance. The heroine, to excite less attention, has prudently assumed male attire for her journey, and casually learns at a little Italian inn that at that very house a knight, in the description of whom she recognizes her lover, had lately been seized by Rambaldo's emissaries, headed by bis creature Romiro, and remains contined in the dungeons of a neighbouring castle.

Romiro, whom his master's urgent needs

To hasten with his warriors home incite,
Now quits the castle, and tow'rd Pisa speeds.

Six times the distance of an arrow's Aigbt
Scarce had he ridden, when from midst the reeds

And slime of a near marsh, appears a knight;
Disastrous fate his battered arms attest,

Broken his sword, and sullied is his crest.
“ His bruised and dinted armour many a stain

Displays of blood, that still seems uncongealed;
Pallid his countenance, his eyes amain

Roll sadly round; and tow'rds the marshy field
He seems, with pausing step, each sense to strain,

Listening if danger any sound revealed.
Now the fierce seneschal's meek wife is seen,

Where at the gate she stands with pitying mien." The knight, who of course is Elisa in disguise, is received with great kindness by this dame: “ The seneschal, with ruby nose, and hair

Grey as his beard, lounged at the festal boaril,
Companioned with a jovial, wanton fair :

Even then from ample vase the wine be poured,
Nor deigned to notice the approaching pair.

No heed amidst bis drink could be afford
Save to bis paramour, on whom he leered,

And, pointing at his wife, nodded and sneered.
“ The wife, thus flouted, ill the insult bore,

And Aed, loud weeping, to her lonely cell;
Thereat Elisa, chafing more and more,

Her silence broke in accents stern and fell.
Seek'st thou thine ease ere duty's task is o'er-

• Draining huge goblets with thy bonnibelle,
• Whilst plunderers here, before thy very eyes,
Thy Lord Rambaldo's dearest friend surprise ?

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »